Opinions split over planning

Cllr Andrew Rodger
Cllr Andrew Rodger
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PROPOSALS to change the way that Fife planning applications are dealt with resulted in Levenmouth councillors crossing swords.

At the recent meeting of Levenmouth area committee members, held at Buckhaven Community Centre, councillors were asked to give their opinions on a review into the way area committees are involved with planning issues.

For the past five years all Fife Council applications have gone to relevant area committees, with it suggested this was the best way to ensure decisions were made as locally as possible.

However, it’s now being said that this arrangement may not be appropriate to the complexity of some applications and that too much committee and officer time was being taken up with minor planning matters.

The council has put forward three new proposals for how the system could be changed, as well as another maintaining the current model, and has put this out to the Kingdom’s various area groups.

The first would be a single planning committee which would deal with all planning business; the second would see the creation of committees based on the current SESplan and TAYplan boundaries and the third would be the introduction of a committee based on west, central and north Fife areas.

Councillor Andrew Rodger said he was strongly in favour of the third option which would likely see the committee made up of a reflection of the political pool of councillors from the three areas.

He said: “It’s a format which has been used before and was effective.

“I feel uncomfortable at times when I’m asked about certain planning issues and I can’t answer because I’m on the committee and my hands are tied.”

But fellow councillor, Alistair Hunter, who was supported by Cllr David Alexander, said the plan was going against the theory that decisions should be taken at as local a level as possible.

He said: “All of these options, apart from the status quo, take decisions away from local areas.

“We’re asked to be more local but there is a huge contradiction here.”